How and Why to Switch Your Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Policy
Medicare Supplement Insurance plans, also known as Medigap, help cover some of the costs not covered by Original Medicare (Parts A and B). If you have a Medigap policy and are not satisfied with the benefits, coverage, or cost of that plan, you may be able to switch Medigap policies, helping you obtain a plan that better suits your needs.
When to Switch Your Medigap Policy
Switching Medicare supplement plans may arise from a want or need to do so. You may want to switch Medigap policies if:
- Your Medigap policy offers benefits you don’t need.
- You need more benefits from your Medigap policy that you didn’t need before.
- You want to change insurance companies.
- You want a new Medigap policy that is less expensive.
You may need to switch Medigap policies if you are eligible for one of the following guaranteed issue rights.
- Your Medigap insurance provider is going bankrupt or going out of business.
- Your Medigap insurance provider committed fraud.
- Your Medigap insurance provider was misleading in some way.
If you qualify for one of the above situations (guaranteed issue rights), then you may switch Medigap policies outside of your Medigap open enrollment period.
Other Situations on Switching Medigap Policy
If you are wondering if you need to switch Medigap policies based on other situations, see the following common scenarios regarding switching Medicare supplement plans.
- Your Medigap policy is older – If you bought your Medigap policy before 2010, or even as long ago as before 1992, you do not have to switch your policy, but there are a couple of things you should know about older Medigap plans. If you bought a plan before 2010, that plan may offer coverage that isn’t offered by newer plans. Therefore, you may be better off keeping that plan rather than switching to a new policy. If you bought your Medigap policy before 1992, you still do not have to switch plans, but keep in mind that your plan may not be a guaranteed renewable policy and may have a greater premium increase.
- You are moving out of the state – Even if you are moving to a different state, you may still keep your current Medigap policy as long as you still have Original Medicare.
- You have a Medicare SELECT plan and are moving outside the plan’s coverage area – You can either purchase a standardized Medigap policy from your current insurance provider as long as the new plan offers equal or fewer benefits than your current Medicare SELECT plan, or, using your guaranteed issue right, you may purchase a Medigap Plan A, B, C, F, K, or L that is sold my most insurance companies in most states.
Things to Keep in Mind About Switching Your Medigap Policy
If you want or need to switch medicare supplement plans, keep in mind the following information about changing Medigap policies.
- Under Federal law, you typically do not have the right to switch Medigap policies unless you are switching within your open enrollment period, or you are eligible for a guaranteed issue right.
- If the insurance company is willing to sell you a Medigap policy outside of the open enrollment period, you may have to answer some medical history questions or pay a higher premium for the new Medigap policy.
- You do not have to wait a certain period of time after purchasing your first Medigap policy before you may switch to a new Medigap policy.
- You may have to wait up to 6 months before pre-existing conditions or new benefits your old plan did not offer are covered by your new Medigap plan after switching policies.
- You should drop your Medigap policy if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, and it is illegal for insurance companies to try to sell you a Medigap policy if you have a Medicare Advantage plan.
How to Switch Medigap Policies
To switch your Medigap policy, you must either switch during your 6-month Medigap open enrollment period or be eligible for one of the guaranteed issue rights mentioned earlier.
Once you have decided to switch change Medicare supplement plans, first call the insurance provider of the new Medigap policy to apply for that policy. If the insurance company accepts your application for a new Medigap policy, you should then call the insurance provider of your old Medigap policy to request for the coverage to end.
After Switching Medigap Policies
After you have successfully switched Medicare supplement plans, you are given a 30-day period in which you can decide if you want to keep or cancel your new plan. This 30-day period is known as a free-look period, which begins right when you get your new Medigap policy.
Once you change Medigap policies, it is recommended that you do not cancel your old plan right away. It is a good idea to keep your old Medigap policy until you have decided that you are satisfied with your new policy. This way, you can easily go back to using your old Medigap plan if you decide that you do not like your new policy.